In a rare, if not unprecedented move, Minister Jack Straw has rejected the advice of the Parole Board and ruled that Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs must stay in jail. The decision has come as a total shock to many people.
At a time when the prisons are unable to cope and courts are being advised to let fit and healthy burglars go free, a frail 79 year old man who has had a series of strokes, cannot eat or speak, can barely walk and last weekend broke his hip falling out of bed in Norwich Prison, is to be kept in jail and take up a valuable space.
He may well have committed a serious crime in the past, he may well have no remorse for his crime, but as a ‘risk’ he must rank far lower than some of the low-life thugs currently avoiding a custodial sentence due to overcrowding in the prison system.
Cynics may see the decision as more political, a last ditch effort to be seen as ‘tough on crime’ in the run-up to an election.